Coronavirus as the basis for the protest of party-building. On the example of Germany

The European press these days writes a lot about the fact that one of the negative effects of the crown-crisis are “fundamental doubts about democracy.” Behind them the concerns of citizens about the gradual onset of the state on their rights. And there was this concern immediately, but with the development of the pandemic. In the first stage of the pandemic people are most concerned about their health and the health of their loved ones. Then they became concerned about the negative economic effects of coronavirus. Now, in the third stage of the crisis, Europeans are beginning to worry about already political issues — how to maintain the basic principles of democracy and the rights of the citizen in Europe? The reason for such close attention to this topic especially in Germany was the rise of the protest movement in this country, where, on the wave of gradual easing of quarantine measures gaining momentum “anticorrosiveness” demonstrations on the streets and squares of Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, Frankfurt and other German cities. Even more numerous manifestations of protest in the German social networks.

The motives of the protesters in this case are different. Someone fundamentally opposed to any restrictions of constitutional freedoms. The most vehement opponents of restrictive measures simply believe that is actually a new type of coronavirus is not as dangerous as telling the authorities, or even not dangerous at all.


The growth of protest “anticolonialism” sentiment is of serious concern to many German politicians. This is despite the fact that, according to recent opinion polls, the vast majority of the German population (70%) still believes the government has taken quarantine measures are justified. However, 19% of Germans believe these measures are “excessive”. Such sentiments almost one-fifth of the population in Germany are so worried about the government, because it is still fresh in the memories of the consequences of the migration crisis of 2015, when Europe literally drowned in the flow of refugees. Then right populist party “Alternative for Germany” (ADH), suddenly the political center was on the rise, collecting the protest votes against the immigration policy of “open doors” of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Now this policy of the Germans in the majority consider erroneous and primarily responsible for the refugee crisis. If in 2015, held an extraordinary elections to the Parliament, according to the then opinion polls, for ADG would have voted about 20% of the electorate, and this could be a real political earthquake in Germany. At the regional level, “Alternative” was later able even more to strengthen their positions. In the elections to the land Parliament of Thuringia in October 2019 for the ultra-right “Alternative for Germany” voted 39% of voters. Voters did not bother even the fact that the leader of the party list of candidates was the head of the regional branch of the “ADH” Bjorn Hecke — politician, who is in Germany in court officially allowed to call you a fascist for his right-wing views and statements.

After failing to the ruling German Christian Democrats (CDU) regional elections Angela Merkel took the decision to leave the post of party leader. Its successor on this post Annegret Kramp-of Karrenbauer was forced to abandon the struggle for the seat of Chancellor of Germany after the political crisis in Thuringia. Then the regional office, the CDU has entered into an agreement with the Thuringian wing of the “Alternative” (considered the most radical in the party), to prevent the election to the post of Prime Minister of the land of the left politician Bodo Ramelow. Utterly enraged by this turn of events and the actual blocking of his party with the ultra-right, Merkel demanded that the state Parliament is no less a revision of the results of the vote.

The fact that the German ruling circles still observed an unwritten consensus at any cost to prevent the far-right “Alternative for Germany”, which has managed to become a parliamentary party in the Executive. And now in the German government fear that the protest “anticorrosiveness” sentiment can be a great breeding ground for far right and ultra-left radicals who try to make the most of the situation. And to provoke riots.

Rigid restrictive measures against the coronavirus led to street protests In Germany at the end of March. The first large-scale street protests against these measures taken at Federal and länder level took place in early may in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Dortmund and other cities. The maximum number of participants was recorded in Stuttgart — five thousand people, but the resonance of these shares in Germany is now huge, they are widely discussed in the press and political circles. A number of German politicians expressed support for “anticorona” demonstrations, including the Prime Minister very successful in economic terms, North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Lachet. He stated that he understands why people take to the streets in a situation where “citizens are dealing with the most serious restriction of fundamental rights since the reunification of Germany.” The interior Minister of Thuringia, Georg Mayer also noticed that considers absolutely normal like criticism from protesters, because in the end we are talking about restricting basic rights. However, he added, the authorities rise to legitimate concern on the attempts by extremists to take control of the protesters.

Maybe all the fault of bill gates?

These “anticorona” actions are not of a single focal point, spontaneous protests, mainly formed in the social networks. The participants and supporters of stock very colourful, represented almost the entire political spectrum. Here and supporters of various conspiracy theories, ranging from the most popular theories of artificial introduction of coronavirus сovid-19 world government under the leadership of company founder “Microsoft” bill gates. Adherents of this theory believe that the real purpose of the “philanthropist” gates is the mass chipping of the population under the guise of vaccination. The purpose of the care of humanity — the establishment of control over every individual. There are proponents of the idea that the pandemic was started by politicians with the aim of obtaining a legal way to keep the entire population of the planet “under the hood”. And someone prefer the idea of a shadow conspiracy of financiers and politicians, in pursuit of profits. Because the vaccine for coronavirus, sooner or later will appear and then universal vaccination on a global scale it will be possible to earn good money.

Participants in some of the demonstrations out on the street with a yellow star on his chest that says “unvaccinated” that looks like a star made of cloth, which were ordered to wear all the Jews during the Holocaust. Supporters of this position call taken by the German authorities restrictive measures to prevent the spread of new infections “social Holocaust”. There are among the protesters and categorical opponents of vaccination as well as those who suspect the government desire to establish a dictatorship. Play a role, and ordinary citizens who are economically affected by the restrictive measures during a pandemic. British “The Guardian” quotes one of the participants anticholinesterases protests in Stuttgart: “Why should I be locked in his house when this virus in Germany died only eight thousand people, and meanwhile, the economy is bent?”

Against crackdown

All these people — different ages, education, and social status. What unites them, in addition to the mistrust of authority? First of all — the conviction that the socio-economic consequences of combating coronavirus represent much more dangerous than the infection itself. The unifying thread variegated quilt is the idea that in fact, the coronavirus is not so black as he is painted policy. With many frightening stories and articles about “the crown” they see an attempt to “tighten the screws” on a global scale. And this is a very fertile constituency for populists of all stripes, seeking to direct the discontent of the population to achieve their goals.

Various conspiracy theories are being discussed in Germany and quite widely in the media, and social networks, and if some people sincerely believe in them, others are trying to use the lack of reliable information about the nature and specifics covid-19 for their own purposes. According to the magazine “Spiegel” over the past month greatly increased the number of subscribers in those German Newspapers which publish on a regular basis information on the various conspiracy theories around coronavirus. The increase was from 10 to 75 thousand new subscribers.

A new batch

On the basis of civil protest initiative against anticorrosiveness measures in Germany have even created a new political party. It is the Union of the populist movement called “Resistance 2020” (2020 Wiederstand). The party, according to its leadership, allegedly for more than a hundred thousand supporters. But as a census of its members, the party is in social networks, the data is difficult to verify. The organization was founded as the party of the opponents of restrictive measures of the government to combat the coronavirus, its political program the party yet. One of the founders, otolaryngologist Bodo Shiffman popularitywith on his YouTube-channel point of view that the coronavirus сovid-19 is actually not more dangerous than the flu. While “Resistance to 2020” is the protest of the civil initiative, which with high probability will be weakened and will disappear from the agenda after the pandemic will leave the headlines.

The response of the authorities

On Monday at a press conference in Berlin, the Deputy of the official representative of the government of Germany Ulrike Demmer said that those who deliberately spread false information about the coronavirus and alleged conspiracy theories, in fact, “tend to split the nation and to set the Germans against each other.” Mrs. Demmer stressed that particular danger, according to the government, represent calls to the failure of quarantine measures and tensions by spreading false rumors. Thus, contrary circulating in the German social networks to rumors, the German government in fact did not intend to make vaccination against coronavirus Covid-19 compulsory for the population.

The Cabinet of Ministers, according to Demmer, very seriously the criticism of the “anticorona” measures, and therefore considers civilized debate about the pandemic is a natural element of a democratic society. However, in some cases, street protests were accompanied by an attack on journalists and police officers. And so, according to the authorities, alarming radicalization can not disturb.

Burnout from the pandemic

In addition, concerned authorities and increasing during similar mass actions potential risk of acquiring coronavirus infection. Moreover, in parallel with these protests in the same cities Germany were also kind of “antiprotestnye” demonstration. Their members were against principled opponents of vaccination, and at the same time and walked on the supporters of the conspiracy theory. On Thursday the authorities of Stuttgart banned this weekend “anticholinesterases” demonstration scheduled “ADG”, which was expected by one of the leaders of the party — the conservative, open lesbians Alice Vidal. The official reason for banning was named sanitary measures to prevent the spread of covid-19. Responded to the upcoming speech and the Federal government. Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas urged citizens to distance themselves from the demonstrators. “If the radical Islamists are using the demonstrations to incite hatred and division, then everyone should keep their distance more than one and a half meters”, — said the head of the German foreign Ministry on Thursday. He also added that “those who spread conspiracy theories around the world, without masks, without compliance with the minimum distance, without any concern for the welfare of others, confuse courage with blind anger. And freedom — with complete self-interest.”

Paradoxically, a new wave of protests that swept Germany over the weekend, was just the background of the easing of quarantine measures in the country. Moreover, according to 22 may daily increase of cases in Germany has reached at least 500 people, which indirectly indicates the efficiency of the undertaken government measures. While Germany is coping with the epidemic. The mortality rate in comparison with the situation in the USA, the UK or Italy, remains relatively low compared to the total number of infected citizens: about 8 deaths per thousand 179 thousand infected. In relation to the unprecedented support we have received “antimony” the course of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the new protest electorate looks like is not very serious. According to the latest opinion polls, if elections were held soon, the CDU would give their votes about 40% of the German voters.

However, according to various opinion polls, in Germany there is now a paradoxical trend in parallel with the approval of the actions of the government in the fight against the pandemic, the same people begin to show fatigue from quarantine and concern for their economic future. That is, understand, fully support, but themselves to participate in this no more. Tired. In addition, the background is quite decent statistics on the situation of the epidemic in Germany, the virus may seem deceptively not-so-terrible, in contrast to its economic and social consequences.